So the other evening I was trying to find ways to avoid balancing my checkbook. I’m proud to say that I was successful! Er… perhaps “proud” is not the word I’m looking for.
Anyway, after feverishly moving around the living room furniture in a maniacal vacuum session and unearthing scores of lost cat toys in the process (kitty heaven!) I still had some time to kill, so decided to do some barre work in the kitchen: the very first lesson in 100 Lessons in Classical Ballet. The lesson I based my own first classes on during my brief, but beloved, teaching stint.
Admittedly my kitchen doesn’t make the best ballet studio in the world. It’s one of those typical galley-style kitchens where there’s no room to swing a cat (much to the relief of my two girls), but Year 1, Lesson 1 doesn’t require a ton of room, really. Mostly demi-pliés, lots of tendus, nearly all exercises facing the barre (or the counter top in my case). Except for smacking my feet on the underside of the cabinets during tendu devant it worked well enough.
Holy shniekies! I was feelin’ it the next day, I’mma tella you! See, that first lesson starts everything off at a snail’s pace. The demi-pliés are the interminable kind where you really have to move like honey to make the movement take up all the time or you’ll end up hanging out at the top or bottom for what seems like an eternity. And battements tendus! Four counts to open, four to close. I would be lying if I said that my inner thighs, feet, and tush weren’t feeling the burn. Then the port de bras exercise. Again, very slow rise from preparatory to first and back, preparatory to first then third (aka fifth) and back, and so on. I could feel it right in the center of my back. Which is good. That’s where I should feel it.
Had class the next day, then repeated the kitchen lesson the day after that. The next night in ballet and pointe I felt stronger, somehow. I didn’t feel as exhausted at the end of class. I felt more confident in pointe class. Coincidence? Who knows?
But man oh man, I might have to make a habit of this. It’s boring as heck, but such a good workout. Gives you the time to focus on all of the elements. Turnout. Not leaning into the standing hip. Articulating the feet. In class it seems like so much of what we do is a brain workout as much as a body workout. A good workout nonetheless, but it felt good to revisit the basics and consider each of the moves in their pure state.
I’ve mostly avoided home practice since I don’t have a good space for it, but I’m wondering if doing a 45-minute barre on my off days mightn’t be a bad idea. Build up some strength and make my class days all the more productive. Hm. At the very least, the delicious ache the next day is invigorating (you know, just the right kind of ache where you can tell that you put in some work, not the limping, groaning kind of ache!).
Oh, and… I miss teaching.